Young minds at work: shaping a city with Minecraft

27 Mar 2024 — The city of Alkmaar invited its youngest inhabitants to plan a new urban area through a very popular video game.

Adults wear their bright yellow helmets and clunky safety shoes as they work on construction sites, while children happily play with small, coloured bricks to construct imaginary cities. Worlds apart, you might think. Not in Alkmaar, POCITYF’s lighthouse city, where the latest citizen engagement initiative encourages the youngest to use a video game called Minecraft Education to plan the new urban renewal.

The “Schools Reinventing Alkmaar” initiative, launched on March 14th, involves recreating the cityscape within a virtual video game world. This platform serves as the canvas for designing the forthcoming sustainable neighbourhood, allowing children up to 14 years old to craft their envisioned community using in-game avatars.

The Minecraft video game is perfectly suited to this initiative. With an immense popularity among children, boasting 166 million monthly active players (Search Logistics), the game’s main mechanic involves arranging blocks to “craft” objects, structures, and more. Alkmaar’s mayor, Anja Schouten, has her own “in-game character” and extended an invitation to the city’s children to participate.

Students from schools in Alkmaar have until May 31 to submit their designs via a short video. The best ideas will be invited to present at the city hall in June, with the winning submission receiving a prize.

This initiative perfectly illustrates how citizens (especially the youngest) can actively shape the future of their town, going beyond being mere residents to becoming architects of a more sustainable future.

Picture courtesy of Alkmaar Municipality
Featured image by Alvaro Reyes, Unsplash